The Crone Princess 

The Crone Princess 

I got into an interesting discussion recently. “What kind of princess is the new Snow White supposed to be anyway?” 

It was the rehash of just how horrible of a person Rachel Zegler is, and the nasty things she had to say about her new character. 

Here’s the thing, while I have very little doubt that she’s spoiled, narcissistic, and generally speaking five feet of walking malignancy, she didn’t come up with those lines that she bombed herself with at D-23. Those were all the producers’ talking points because Gal Gadot was spouting them too. 

They were both saying things about 1937 Snow White and their new godawful version that Disney officially wanted them to be saying. 

In Zegler’s case, she just said it really badly because she’s a real-life Sharpay from High School Musical.  

A much less abrasive personality would have first praised Snow White (1937), and instead of saying how she didn’t like it she would have gone on at length about how much her abuelita loved it because it was the first movie she ever saw. So, she sat down to watch it with Granny and her aged eyes still light up when the movie begins. The artwork is still breathtaking. “Did you know that insert random Snow White production trivia here?” 

Then it would have been time to mention that as she watched it she realized that a shot-for-shot remake was simply going to be impossible today. Dwarf names like Doc and Grumpy weren’t a problem, but Dopey was unusable and Sleepy could offend narcoleptics, and why exactly was Happy so happy all the time?  

Snow White herself was completely passive in her own story. Prince Charming was barely in it at all, he only had three scenes.  

The basic story is fine but the style of it’s telling has to change. 

I can even work up a little bit of sympathy because if Zegler was referring to Prince Charming in the original story, well it was weird and creepy.  

The problem is this, even if she had been capable of handling the press more diplomatically the message the producers want to send is fundamentally toxic because they want to redefine what the Disney Princess is. 

The Disney Princess from Snow White to Ariel (I) was first and foremost a Maiden. They were beautiful young women of an age to marry and their goals were to move on to the next phase of a woman’s life.  

They wanted to go from Maidenhood to Motherhood.  

The conflict that Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Ariel faced was external. 

Their antagonist was the Crone. 

A Crone, shouldn’t be evil. A woman who has moved past motherhood and has lived a good life becomes a beloved figure of the extended family whose wisdom is sought, whose strength of character is to be emulated, and whose love brings comfort to all members of the family.  

But the Crones the princesses faced were bent creatures who had either cast aside motherhood (or in the case of Cinderella was really bad at it) in pursuit of their voracious appetites. Chief among these appetites was the desire to gather power. They wanted the power that comes with beauty.

After Ariel, the conflicts the princesses faced became more internal. Belle, Pocahontas, and Jasmine all felt that love was nice and all that, but they all seemed to feel there should be more to their lives than motherhood. It was more of an implied internal conflict.

One that became quite explicit with Mulan: 

Look at me 
You may think you see 
Who I really am 
But you’ll never know me 

Every day 
It’s as if I play a part 
Now I see 
If I wear a mask 
I can fool the world 
But I cannot fool my heart 

Who is that girl I see 
Staring straight back at me? 
When will my reflection show 
Who I am inside? 

I am now 
In a world where I 
Have to hide my heart 
And what I believe in 

But somehow 
I will show the world 
What’s inside my heart 
And be loved for who I am 

Who is that girl I see 
Staring straight back at me? 
Why is my reflection 
Someone I don’t know? 
Must I pretend that I’m 
Someone else for all time? 
When will my reflection show 
Who I am inside? 

There’s a heart that must be 
Free to fly 
That burns with a need to know 
The reason why 

Why must we all conceal 
What we think, how we feel? 

Must there be a secret me 
I’m forced to hide? 
I won’t pretend that I’m 
Someone else for all time 
When will my reflection show 
Who I am inside? 

When will my reflection show 
Who I am inside? 
Who I am inside 

Mulan had a boyfriend but let’s face facts, you were pretty sure nothing was ever going to come from it. 

Merida was the first of the modern Disney princesses. She rejected motherhood and the expectations of her family. She clearly intended to rule her father’s kingdom when he died. She wanted power for herself at the expense of years that should have been spent in motherhood. She explicitly declared in the archery tournament that she was going to take her own hand in marriage.

This was made even more unequivocal with Ariel (II). She loved being attractive but that was only because of the power it gave her over Eric. Her singing was explicitly declared to be a siren’s song with power over men. 

Ursula came across more as a rival than a true enemy. They both wanted the same things. At the end of the movie after defeating her rival and abandoning her family, Ariel (II) sets out to have adventures across the world. Eric is by her side but she clearly has all the power in that relationship and can end it at any time for another man whenever she wishes. She had cast aside motherhood in pursuit of her appetite for power. 

She was the first Crone Princess. 

But she won’t be the last. 

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